Kingsman: The Secret Service
If you take your kids to see Kingsman, you no longer have the right to be a parent. This absolutely wonderful bloodbath should never be seen by innocent eyes unless one wishes to be corrupted irrevocably. Director Matthew Vaughn has brought the masses yet another magnificent adaptation of a graphic novel, and it is an absolute guarantee that this film will remain one of the highlights of the year. Kingsman encapsulates everything that was great about the Sixties Spy genre, and is a heartwarming love letter to the Roger Moore Bond films.
Kingsman stars newcomer Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, the son of a late Kingsman agent and the film’s resident cockney hoodlum. Caught in jail after a scrap with the police and some other cockney hoodlums (because just one wasn’t enough), Eggsy is sprung from jail by his late father’s mentor, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who trains him to join the titular Kingsman agency headed by Chester King (Michael Caine), so that he can foil Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his nefarious plot to destroy the world.
Eggsy’s training to become an agent of this international organization takes up the majority of the second act of this film, and while that act is very enjoyable, the preceding introductory act feels fairly slow, fails to engage, and exists solely to make the audience wish it would finally get to the action. Eggsy’s family, his mother and sister, make the act drag and the cuts to them during the third act serve to unnecessarily distract from the climax in the heat of the action. While they may have been intended to heighten tension, it pulls away from the classic Bond feel by saddling the protagonist with a sense of familial responsibility.On the flip-side, the action is extremely well choreographed and each character has their own unique style to them. Older agents such as Harry and Lancelot feel more grounded and stone-like, while the younger fare such as Eggsy and the villain’s dragon, Gazelle, are much more acrobatic and limber in their combat. Frankly, when your main weapon is giant knives-for-legs, incorporating the swinging of those blades at your enemy makes a lot of sense. Pair that with a distinct fluidity to the fighting and a lack of shaky-cam, and Kingsman brings more of the same great style we’ve seen in Vaughn’s previous comic book adaptations, Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2.
The highlight of the action may very well be what the masses are calling “the Church Scene”. Keeping the details light, this is an utter bloodbath of epic proportions containing over a hundred combatants, all completed in one take. It’s an excellent popcorn-munching moment and the sheer amount of excessively gory decadence is enough to condemn any audience who willingly observed it to a thousand years in the deepest darkest pits of hell.The entire affair is entirely safe-guarded from sheer revulsion by the audience due to the victims of the gigantic physical brawl all being completely unsympathetic, to the degree where in-universe they’re classified as a hate group. It’s an enjoyable scene and just one example of how the movie doesn’t just reference the old Bond tropes, but plays them out up to eleven. While on the surface layer this movie is yet another laissez-faire action-comedy, it carries with it a deeper subtext of lampooning the tropes of classic spy fiction such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Get Smart by exaggerating those tropes to the nth degree. When it comes to taking the piss out of the previous works which preceded it, Kingsman goes above and beyond.
By far the most engaging performance in the film is given by Samuel L. Jackson, as the villain Richmond Valentine, a multi-billion dollar tech mogul with a distaste for violence and an affinity for world domination. The character is a welcome change of routine from this actor’s usual portrayals. It is refreshing to see Mr. Jackson truly act for once, rather than continue to play the role of Samuel L. Jackson, as has been his usual fare in recent years.
Valentine plays off especially well against his right-hand woman, Gazelle, one of the two strong, independent female characters in this movie. Portrayed by Sofia Boutella, she’s an interesting twist on the usual idea of the right-hand man, instead being characterized as more of an equal partner, and overall plays the straight man to Jackson’s Valentine very well.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a good movie. It’s has a nice, comic-book feel and it signifies the end of the January slump season when it comes to the annual schedule of movie releases. It’s worth a watch and it’s nice to showcase a movie on PopcornFlicks that for once, doesn’t make one want to gouge out their eyeballs.